LONDON (Jan. 25)
Great Britain and Russia reached no substantive agreement on the Middle East during Prime Minister Harold Wilson’s recent visit to Moscow, it was authoritatively reported here today. Rumors that the two countries had come to an “understanding” on Israeli withdrawal from the occupied Arab territories and on the use of United Nations machinery can be safely discarded, informed sources said.
The Middle East crisis was one of the subjects discussed by Mr. Wilson with Russian leaders. But nothing came of these talks beyond an agreement that both countries would “work for peace” in the region wherever the influence of each can be brought to bear.
Foreign Secretary George Brown told the House of Commons today that he thought the atmosphere in the Middle East had “improved lately” as a result of the British sponsored Security Council resolution of last Nov. 22, But, he said, it was unrealistic to assume that the Suez Canal could be re-opened without the consent of both sides, implying a political decision whereby Israeli forces would be withdrawn from the Canal’s east bank and the Canal itself would be open to navigation by all countries.
British policy in the Middle East, he said, was to be “helpful” to both sides but this required that Britain be “trusted” by both and that each side be prepared to “concentrate on fundamental issues and make compromises.”